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Battling Downy Mildew

Nuseed a Leader in the Fight Against Downy Mildew

The Nuseed team recently set out to improve downy mildew (DM) resistance in their sunflower hybrids.

“One of the projects that we started back in 2016 was an effort to integrate advanced downy mildew genetics into our new hybrids. That started out by identifying the most robust genes we had to work with, knowing that it would be a lengthy process. We picked two different DM genes that provide full resistance to all known strains of DM. One was on the female side of the hybrid and the other was on the male side of the hybrid,” says Nuseed Sunflower Breeder, Jeremy Klumper.

The idea was to make sure that a Nuseed hybrid with a stack of DM genes would help improve the durability of the resistance over just using one gene. What we ended up with are hyrbids that offer advanced DM resistance. Nuseed’s future hybrids will carry a three gene stack of resistance plus the seed treatments such as Plenaris and Dynasty. The benefits of advanced downy mildew resistance in European countries is already being proven to provide farmers with the genetic tools they need to fight the disease. “In some of our European countries, we have now started registration where we have three different downy mildew genes that are all stacked in the same hybrid,” Klumper says. “And we’re only a year away from having multiple genes of resistance here in North America. These multiple genes, plus our seed treatments, should give us bulletproof resistance to downy mildew for the foreseeable future.”

Currently, very few products in North America can boast any type of advanced downy mildew resistance, making Nuseed hybrids leaders in the fight against downy mildew, a position Klumper hopes will help to improve the rest of the industry.

“The more acres that have advanced downy mildew resistance, the more pressure there will be on other hybrids that don’t have that advanced gene package. Those companies are going to respond to that pressure,” he says.

Additional to downy mildew resistance, ultra-early maturing hybrids gives flexibility to shorter growing seasons.